Housing Remains a Threat to UK Airfields

For the latest edition of AERODROMES UPDATE please click to view the PDF. The list is maintained by AOPA and GAAC Board Member, John Walker.

Note that Old Sarum Airfield is believed to have fully reopened before the latest UK National Lockdown. We therefore assume it will resume normal operations on 2nd December (or the relevant later date if the Covid-19 Lockdown is extended further).

Please note that the National Restrictions for General Aviation are available on the UK Government website CLICK HERE.

As of 13th November, 2020, these can be summarised as follows, with an planned end date (at that time) of 2nd December:

Private pilots should not undertake any sport or leisure flying, in line with the requirement to stay at home without reasonable excuse.

General Aviation (GA) flying for the purposes of work, where it is not reasonably possible to work or provide those services at home, is permitted.

The guidance also states “We recommend that flight training for private pilots not continue while the national restrictions are in place.

Flying training organisations providing training for professional pilots may continue to do so, and students undertaking such activity may continue to attend for these purposes.”

In addition, engine health and maintenance check flights and flights to maintain currency only, that would otherwise lapse during the planned lockdown period, should only be conducted where there is an urgent requirement to do so, and alternative options are not available.

Such flights, where conducted, must be kept to the minimum duration possible and should land at the same airfield from which they departed (apart from where this is outside of the reasonable control of the pilot).

The guidance is at pains to urge people to observe COVID-19 precautions at all times.

Once restrictions are lifted the UK General Aviation sector is looking forward to a gradual recovery and hopes further lock-downs are not necessary. The economic damage, as with other sectors, has been huge but continued enthusiasm for grass-roots aviation gives us confidence that better times are around the corner.

What we must keep fighting for, however, is the airfields that are so hard to create and maintain in operation. Once lost, it is very unlikely that they will come back — and starting new airfields is notoriously difficult (though you are thankfully still permitted as a right to fly up to 28 days a year from your own property).

With neighbour- and environmentally friendly electric aircraft starting to emerge, the future looks bright and with so many new aircraft in development, it seems likely that Aerodromes will see a new Golden Age emerging over the next few decades.

Now is the time to make sure that increasingly liberalised planning laws don’t see all the Airfields becoming Housing Estates!

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